January 11, 2017 at 12:15AM

Our friend Hilary Taylor, who has died after a stroke aged 62, was an artist, teacher, healer and animal lover who always saw the best in others.

She was very generous, sharing techniques and giving away and swapping her artwork, which went through many changes: detailed pen drawings, wooden toys, quirky decorations, Christmas cherubs sporting Doc Martens and dungarees, papier-mache furniture, bowls and figures, pastel painting, collages, comic strips and a seemingly never-ending range of self-made greeting cards. She was a founder member, 23 years ago, of the Backyard Artists, a group that exhibits annually in Rowhedge, Essex, and further afield in the county.

Born in Colchester to Bronwen (nee Marshall), a secretary, and Peter Taylor, a registrar, and educated at Philip Morant school, Colchester, where she was head girl, Hil spent her whole life in the tiny nearby village of Rowhedge on the river Colne, apart from her years training as a teacher at Newton Park College, Bath.

As a young secondary school teacher of drama and English at Thomas Lord Audley school, Colchester (1976-90), and Kesgrave high school near Ipswich (1993-96), she was as open about her sexuality as she could be in the context of the time and under section 28’s diktat against the “promotion of homosexuality”. In 1996, she moved into work with children being educated outside the mainstream, either in a specialist centre or in their own homes.

Hil was keen on maintaining a work-life balance, with the scales firmly weighted towards life. She worked part- time as soon as financially possible and retired early in 2012 to enjoy interests outside work. She knew exactly how to spend her time: with her friends, family and her art, or touring the country in her much-loved green camper van.

On holidays abroad she rescued cats and dogs from a miserable existence, had them quarantined, and brought them home to Britain to ensure the rest of their lives were filled with fun. She was never one to shy away from a challenge and would cater for their idiosyncratic diets as well as some eccentric behaviour.

Hil is survived by her brother, Nick.

from Education | The Guardian http://ift.tt/2ijOkbS